Aristotle believed that Ethos, the trust of a speaker, was characterized by three attributes: the intelligence of the speaker (correctness of opinions, or competence), the character of the speaker (reliability – a competence factor, and honesty – a measure of intentions), and the goodwill of the speaker (favorable intentions towards the listener).
Has anything really changed in 2,400 years?
Customer-Vendor relationships are often riddled with distrust. Customers believe (and project?) they are paying too much, giving too much, working too hard and receiving too little. Vendors can be heard saying that they are paid too little, give too much, work too hard with no recognition and that they are driving most results. What would Aristotle say? One answer might be that unexamined organizations may make difficult partners.
Brought forward to 2011, Aristotle’s guidebook suggests that Trust in Customer-Vendor relationships is a matter of three factors (distilled from his work in The Rhetoric):
- each firm understands its own capabilities or competencies, the gaps, and what possible partners might offer to create larger, faster wins
- each firm understands its own cultures (values, norms and behaviors), and what kinds of firms they are best able to work with or serve to achieve outrageous outcomes
- each firm understands its own values with respect to opening up to, being vulnerable to, relying on and being assisted by another firm, to achieve more with less (leverage)
- the best total lowest cost price for the solution offered (Aristotle, what do you think? pass the sniff test?)
- a firm we can most manage or dominate so that we have leverage (what happened to vulnerability? to openness?)
- the best in-class firm in the category, thus, one we must do business with to get unfair advantage